5 Animals That Might Show Up In Your Toilet to Terrify You

iStock/RichardCardenas
iStock/RichardCardenas

A man in Coral Springs, Florida, got more than he bargained for over Memorial Day weekend when he lifted the lid on his toilet and had a 4-foot ball python pop out—and bite him on the arm. Fortunately, the snake (which was captured and taken to the Coral Springs Humane Society) is nonvenomous and the man was treated at the scene. But he's not the only one to encounter an unwanted critter in the commode. If the stories below teach us anything, it's to look before you sit.

1. Snakes

In 2015, San Diego's Department of Animal Services removed a 5.5-foot-long Columbia rainbow boa from a toilet in an office building. Stephanie Lacsa, the unfortunate person who found the snake, noticed a higher than normal level of water in the bowl and, when she began to plunge it, the snake popped out. “I thought my eyes were deceiving me,” Lasca said. “This is every person’s worst nightmare.” 

Officials believe the snake Lasca found didn't come in through the toilet, but was instead left there by someone. Still, snakes seem to pop up in toilets fairly often: An Isreali man was bitten on the penis by a snake in his toilet; a Staten Island man was brushing his teeth when he saw a California kingsnake in his toilet bowl; a Mumbai family discovered a 6-foot cobra in their toilet, mere moments after someone had used it; a Pennsylvania woman found a black snake in her commode; and so on. 

2. Rats

Small rat on a white background
iStock/Dixi_

It’s no urban legend: Rats can totally crawl up into your toilet bowl (here’s how they do it). Just ask the couple in South London who were afraid to go to the bathroom after a rat kept poking its head up into their toilet bowl for 8 months in 2013, or the Brooklyn residents who were watching TV when a rat entered their apartment through the toilet, or the many people who have posted videos of rats in their toilets on YouTube.

“It happens all the time, especially if you live in the basement or a first floor apartment,” Eddie Marco, owner of Brooklyn Pest Control, told Gothamist. “The pipe is empty, the rat crawls through the pipe and up over the hump and into the porcelain. And he can’t get back out.” Vector control in Portland, Oregon reportedly receives 10 to 15 calls a year from residents who have found rats, alive and dead, in their toilets. Marco’s advice: If you find a rat in your toilet bowl, flush it down—and if it gets into your apartment, call the experts to deal with it.

3. Frogs

Portrait of a bullfrog
iStock/ygluzberg

It’s less scary than finding a snake or rat, but it’s probably still pretty disconcerting to see a frog hanging out in your toilet bowl. It happens to lots of people: Googling “frog in toilet” yields more than 27.3 million results. One Florida resident found enough frogs in his toilet that he wrote in to the Tampa Bay Times for advice: “How does a frog (of a pretty good size) get in the toilet? We had one a number of years ago and then again just Sunday.” The newspaper recommended putting a mesh screen over the toilet vent and keeping lights off at night (keeping them on would attract bugs and, therefore, potentially frogs).

4. Squirrels

Close-up photo of a squirrel eating
iStock/johnlric

Rats aren’t the only rodents to pop up in toilet bowls. In 2008, a writer for Tallahassee magazine recounted what happened when her cats tipped her off to a squirrel in the toilet, and in 2010, a woman in Edmond, Oklahoma, discovered a squirrel splashing around in the bowl. It took two officers several minutes to “apprehend” the creature—which jumped out of the toilet and ran around the bathroom—and release it in a local park. And in 2013, Winnipeg resident Angela Campbell heard loud sounds coming from her toilet. “I was envisioning ... monsters,” she told the Winnipeg Free Press. Instead, she found a very smelly squirrel, “caked with whatever was inside the pipes, from wherever it was coming from.” Campbell didn’t freak out, though; instead, she removed the sad, weak little squirrel, cleaned it up in her bathtub, and set it free.

5. Possums

Photo of a baby possum
iStock/timharman

It appears that, in addition to playing dead, some possums enjoy taking a swim. In 2008, Brisbane, Australia resident Tim Fraser was doing the laundry in his bathroom when the water in the toilet began to gurgle—and out popped a baby possum. "It was like the toilet had given birth," Fraser told the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2011, Austin, Texas photographer Shaylan Nelson’s husband found what he thought was a baby rat, but was actually an adorable baby possum, in their toilet; they rescued the little guy and set him free. And in 2013, West Virginia writer Karin Fuller recounted the tale of finding a dead possum in her toilet—which, depending on your point of view, might be worse than a live possum.

And now, for no reason at all, here's a video of baby possums eating watermelon:

Updated for 2019.

Fish Tube: How the 'Salmon Cannon' Works and Why It's Important

PerfectStills/iStock via Getty Images
PerfectStills/iStock via Getty Images

If you’ve been on the internet at any point in the past week, you’ve certainly come across footage of wildlife conservationists stuffing salmon into a giant plastic tube and shuttling them over obstacles. It’s so bizarre—even by the already loose standards of the web—that it briefly ignited discussions over fish welfare, its purpose, and the seeming desire of people to be similarly transported through a pneumatic tunnel into a new life.

Naturally, the “salmon cannon” has a mission beyond amusing the internet. The system was created by Whooshh Innovations, a company that essentially adopted the same kind of transportation system featuring pressurized tubing that's used in banking. Initially, the system was intended to transport fruit over long distances without bruising. At some point, engineers figured they could do the same for fish.

The fish payload is secured at the entrance of the tube—acceptable species can weigh up to 34 pounds—and moves through a smooth, soft plastic tube that conforms to their body shape. Air pressure behind them keeps them moving. The fish are jettisoned between 16 and 26 feet per second to a new location, where they emerge relatively unscathed. Because there’s no need for a water column, the tubing can cover most terrain at virtually any height.

The tubing solution is a human answer to a human problem: dams. With fish largely confined to still bodies of water thanks to dams and facing obstacles swimming upstream to migrate and spawn, fish need some kind of assistance. In the past, “fish ladders” have helped fish move upstream by providing ascending steps they can flop on, but not all fish can navigate such terrain. Another system, trapping and hauling fish like cargo, results in disoriented fish who can even forget how to swim. The Whooshh system, which has been in used in Washington state for at least five years, allows for expedient fish export with an injury rate as little as 3 percent, although study results have varied.

The video features manual insertion of the fish. In the wild, Whooshh counts on fish making semi-voluntary entries into the tubing. Once they swim into an enclosure, they’re curious enough about the tube to go inside.

If all goes well, the system could help salmon be reintroduced to the Upper Columbia River in Washington, where the population has been depleted by dams. Testing of the device there is awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

Virginia Zoo Is Auctioning Off the Chance to Name Its New Red Panda Triplets

bbossom/iStock via Getty Images
bbossom/iStock via Getty Images

The red panda population at the Virginia Zoo grew significantly earlier this summer, The Virginian-Pilot reports. On June 18, mother Masu and father Timur welcomed a brood of triplets into the world, bringing their total number of offspring up to five. The three red panda babies are currently without names, but the zoo is giving a few lucky bidders the chance to change that.

Red pandas are endangered, with fewer than 10,000 of them living in their natural habitat in the Eastern Himalayas. Red panda breeding programs, like the one at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, are a way for conservationists to rebuild the species's dwindling numbers.

In 2017, Masu relocated to Virginia from the Denver Zoo as a juvenile. Zookeepers paired her with a male red panda there named Timur, and in June 2018, she delivered twin cubs named Adam and Freddie. Red pandas typically breed in the spring and summer months and usually have just two babies at a time. But when Masu gave birth again this past June, she had three tiny cubs.

The three new red panda babies each weighed about 5 ounces when they were born and weigh roughly a pound today. Masu has been moved to a private, climate-controlled den to care for her young and will be returned to her original exhibit with her cubs sometime this fall.

By the time they make their debut, the youngest red pandas at the Virginia Zoo will have names, chosen not by the zoo, but by members of the public. Starting yesterday, August 19, and ending August 30, the zoo is holding an online auction for the naming rights of each of the three red panda cubs. As of press time, the honor of naming the two boy red pandas has already been sold for $2500 each, and the current bid for the girl stands at $1000. All the money that's raised will be donated to the Zoo’s conservation partner, the Red Panda Network.

Perhaps due to the results of previous public naming contests, the Zoo did lay out a few stipulations for the winning bidders. It won't accept any repeat names of red pandas that have lived there in the past. Additionally, "any racial, religious or ethnic slurs, explicit language, obscene content, reference to alcohol, drugs or other illicit substances or otherwise unlawful, inappropriate, objectionable, or offensive content" will be rejected. All name submissions from the winners are due to the zoo by September 9.

[h/t The Virginian-Pilot]

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